I recently had the privilege of listening Jay Goltz give a talk. Jay is a successful Chicago entrepreneur, professional keynote speaker, and blogger for the New York Times business blog. Jay’s founded many successful businesses in the Chicago area including Artist Frame Service, Jayson Home & Garden, Chicago Art Source, and Bella Moulding. I’ve actually read about Jay from the book Small Giants before I got a chance to meet him in person. It’s not the norm that I take a lot of notes at these talks, but with Jay I left with 2-3 pages worth of notes.

Jay’s big secret to business is not much of a secret at all: Take care of customers. For him, in order to be successful in business, you have to succeed in 3 areas: Marketing, Management, and Finance.

On Management

  • Hire the right person
  • Turn off the entrepreneur when interviewing people. Don’t lead the interviewee
  • Don’t hurry hiring
  • Lower expectations, raise standards. People don’t know what to expect, so set the standard.
  • Hold people responsible
  • Get rid of your own naivete

On Finance

  • Keep inventory under control
  • Debt is sometimes OK. Don’t pay cash for depreciating assets you can finance to solve cashflow problems.
  • You can’t give all 3: quality, price, and service. You have to pick 2.

Here are some of his general tips.

  • Always keep asking yourself: What am I doing wrong?
  • Entrepreneurship – there’s no balance. Only controlled sacrifice.
  • Success doesn’t equal happiness
  • Figure out the right people. It’s not all you.
  • Don’t price things based on customers, but the cost of goods/services.
  • Stupid is stupid regardless of age. I thought this point was funny.

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